Is Your Sales Team Playing the Blame Game?

Mortgage managers often ask me, “What defines a great sales culture?”
One important characteristic is that companies with a great sales culture refuse to play the “blame game.” This means when a problem arises, everyone involved “owns it” and takes corrective action. Cultures where the blame game is prevalent are always looking for the guilty party. In this way, it becomes someone else’s problem and as a result, no one takes action. In my experience, cultivating a responsible culture always begins with top leadership.

In great sales cultures, individuals understand that management is on their side and want them to win. It also means that leaders have set the tone that nothing but the employee’s best performance will be acceptable.

How do you correct a blame-based environment? There are four steps:

• Look in the mirror. Managers need to look first at their own tendencies to blame others. Have managers set the example that when they make a mistake, they own it? This is a hard question managers must ask if they really want to change the sales environment.

• Evaluate what happens when mistakes are made. If the leader delivers swift justice, no one will want to take risks and move the organization forward. Risk is part of business — it can be managed, but never completely removed. As a result, mistakes will happen but the critical question is how are they being handled?

• “Choose or lose gospel.” As Mike Slaver observes in Leadership Isn’t for Cowards, “leaders need to make employees understand that they always have choices to act or not to act. As a result, it is important to make sure everyone in an organization realizes that they have choices. When a person realizes that they do have choices, it’s a lot harder for them to blame others for their actions.” Slaver recommends that managers occasionally email employees asking, “What’s the most important choice you’ll make at work today?

• Instill a solutions-oriented attitude. Asking solution-focused questions is an easy way to shift the environment. These questions concentrate on what happened versus who did it.

Mortgage banking is a team sport that requires all parts of the business to be in sync. Pointing fingers and blaming each other prevents the team from achieving its goals and performing at its best for a customer. Frankly, it is no fun to be in a group where everyone is in it for themselves.

Is it time to evaluate your sales culture? Give me a call to discuss.